University of Massachusetts Amherst

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The University of Massachusetts Amherst and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have announced an upcoming graduate engineering degree option in ecohydrology – the first in the nation. This master’s degree in civil engineering will prepare students for a career in the specialized field of fish-passage engineering. The collaboration between the USFWS and the Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) Department begins with a $50,000 research grant to support a graduate student and other research activities.

The groundbreaking research of two young faculty members from the Chemical Engineering Department is turning the campus into a national hub for the conversion of biomass into clean, green biofuel. Their research is quickly changing the campus into “BioUMass.” The work of George Huber, the John and Elizabeth Armstrong Professional Development Professor, and Assistant Professor Paul Dauenhauer has recently been covered extensively in an array of respected scientific publications and websites.

The Associated Press interviewed Dr. Casey Brown, Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, for an international story about a new Dutch study, which shows that shrinking glaciers in the Himalayas could lead to food shortages and crop failures in Asia. The Himalayas are the source for most of the major rivers in China and South Asia. Dr. Brown observed that climate variability in that region has the potential to make a serious impact on the lives of millions of people.

Researchers from UMass Amherst, led by a team from our Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department (MIE), received the 2010 Liberty Mutual Award for their scientific paper, “Can Younger Drivers Be Trained to Scan for Information That Will Reduce Their Risk in Roadway Traffic Scenarios That Are Hard to Identify as Hazardous?” The paper, published in Ergonomics (Vol. 52, No. 6, p.p. 657-673, June 2009), discusses a scientific investigation aimed to reduce the risk of vehicle crashes for younger drivers (18-21 years).

Two projects developed in our Electrical and Computer Engineering Department were chosen as finalists for the Vodafone Americas Foundation’s Wireless Innovation Project and recognized at the Global Philanthropy Forum. One of the ECE finalists was DIORAMA ("Dynamic Information Collection and Resource Tracking System for Disaster Management”), which was developed by ECE Professor Aura Ganz and her colleagues to respond quickly to mass-casualty accidents and coordinate the rescue operation.

The Energy & Environmental Science journal has named prominent biofuel expert George Huber of our Chemical Engineering Department to its Editorial Board. Dr. Huber is one of the leading researchers in the field of biomass conversion. Energy & Environmental Science is a new journal linking all aspects of the chemical sciences relating to energy conversion and storage, alternative fuel technologies, and environmental science.

Vroom Vroom Carbon Fiber 1 (VVCF-1), the 2010 entry for the UMass Amherst Supermileage Team (SMV) in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) national supermileage competition in Marshall, Michigan, on June 10 and 11, finished a very respectable eighth in the field of 33 teams by logging an impressive 828 mpg. It was a big improvement over the performance of VVCF-1 last year, which did 536 mpg in the same competition.

An article in the May issue of Industrial Engineer Magazine, the magazine of the Institute of Industrial Engineers (IIE), covered the research of Matthew Romoser, a senior research assistant in the Human Performance Laboratory. The article was entitled “Don’t text, or drink, behind the wheel.” Romoser’s statistics indicate that texting while driving increases your chances of crashing by at least 20 times over driving without such a distraction, while driving while cell-phoning ups your chances of an accident by four to six times.

Calvin Swift, an emeritus professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, will receive an award jointly presented by the International Council for Science Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences for his pioneering work in synthetic aperture radar for earth remote sensing. “The Jeoujang Jaw Award recognizes scientists who have made distinguished pioneering contributions to promoting space research,” his citation states, “establishing new space science research branches, and founding new exploration programs.”

Art Teixeira (B.S. Mechanical Engineering 1966, M.S. Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 1968, Ph.D. Food and Agricultural Engineering 1971) has been named a Fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). He'll receive the honor at the organization's annual meeting this July in Chicago. Dr. Teixeira, now a professor with the University of Florida's (UF) Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department, was one of 18 academic, government, and industry experts elected as 2010 IFT Fellows.

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